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Feb 4, 2002 09:05 PM

Where does an ALS person dine out?

  • j

I plan to be in the Bay Area soon, and I'm hoping to find a good restaurant where I'll be able to get menu items put into a blender. I have great difficulty chewing and swallowing due to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), so blended foods are the only way I can sample the good Calif. cuisine that I remember in healthier days. Any ideas?

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  1. I have never heard of any restaurant that will blend except for smoothie joints. What do you usually enjoy this way when you eat out, and do you call ahead to discuss this special arrangement?

    1. I'm wondering if there's a good soup place around -- that would totally fit your bill. Also Ethiopian may not be bad -- some minced meats and veggies, just skip the injera (the bread). Perhaps a good guacamole might work too.

      Also, I'd strongly recommend ice cream and gelato: Mitchell's, Bombay Ice Cream and Marco Polo.

      1. Be sure to check out the saffron milkshakes at Bombay ice cream company (552 Valencia Street in the mission, 431-1103). They're amazing.

        Also, not sure about your ecological/political feelings are re: sharks fin, but one of my favorite things to eat in the bay area is the shark fin dumpling soup at Seafood Harbor, near the airport in Millbrae (279 El Camino Real, Millbrae, 415-692-9688). There are some vaguely chewable items, but even they are quite soft. No problem, I think.

        Those two dishes alone will provide stupendous enjoyment without resorting to unnatural postproduction methods!

        Listen, I fear you're underestimating your chowhoundish potential for working AROUND this problem, at least for purposes of this trip. If I were you, I'd not look for regular food to be made edible by me; I'd stubbornly plot to try specific dishes here and there which, in their usual form, would be edible (like the two dishes above!).

        Foams are all the rage. There are interesting juices. Lord knows there's amazing ice cream (get to Mitchell's for sure). You can do soufflé and soups and candied yams and spoonbread and granitas!

        The Bay hounds can surely come up with a list of specific standout slurpables for you.

        One thing: how easily do you get around? Is that an issue? Or can you do the "bite here and a bite there" thing? (also, do you have time for that?). If your ablity to get around is super-restricted, I'd bet one or two of our local hounds would consider bringing you some Mitchell's buko (young coconut) ice cream or somesuch to supplement your efforts. We hounds help each other out. Whatever it takes to keep you from having to resort to liquefied pizza, etc. (unless, of course, you LIKE liquefied pizza...? I've never tried it, so I won't knock it!).

        I'm looking forward to reading the great, creative tips the local hounds come up with for you, which will be of interest to non-ALS hounds, as well (in fact, I'll change the thread title).

        Listen, Chowhounding is about overcoming barriers and making the best of whatever eating situation you're in. We are here to provide expert advice, and help ensure that you eat BETTER than on previous visits! You mustn't let your standards down on this trip, I forbid it!!


        3 Replies
        1. re: Jim Leff

          Good point about the souffles...Cafe (or is it Chez?) Jacqueline on Grant St. at Union St. in North Beach is almost exclusively souffles. She has a choice of about three savory souffles for a main course and a choice of sweet ones for dessert. In addition, there is onion soup for an appetizer. This is a place that always comes up when posters ask for "romantic" restaurant recommendations--lots of charm as well as soft food.

          1. re: Millicent

            What a great challenge! Your query brought two places to mind in the East Bay, both within blocks of my house!

            Down the block at our favorite restaurant in the whole Bay Area and maybe the world, Doña Tomas makes creative regional Mexican cooking that makes us swoon. Their chile relleno varies with the season; this season it is stuffed with yams, goatcheese, zucchini and crimini mushrooms. The filling is almost a mash, and if you asked, I am sure they would pulverize it for you before stuffing it into the chile. The chile, being roasted, is also very soft, but I don't know if it's soft enough to eat. If not, skip it, and just eat the beautiful filling, graced with the tomato and poblano cream sauces that come with. Also try the Chileatole Verde con Chochoyotes. It contains a couple solid things, but the broth (a tangy, smooth tomatillo-based broth) is the most wonderful part. Again, you could certainly ask them to mash the zukes and/or the dumplings for you, cuz they are close to mashed already. Finish off the evening with a slice of utterly amazing (and practically liquid) coconut cream pie, and you will have had the same meal that I had last time I went there.
            Another thing to try at Dona Tomas is the sides, like the refried white beans and the roasted winter squash, or the roasted poblano-chile-and-scallion pudding. In our experience they are always happy to bring out the sides as little dishes.
            Dona Tomas
            5004 Telegraph Ave
            Oakland CA 94609
            Open 5:30 to 10 every day but Sun and Mon


            Asmara, at 51st + Telegraph in North Oakland, serves great ethiopian food. Much of it, especially the vegetarian dal-like lentil dishes, is of a puree consistency. The lamb that comes in the meat combo plate is so tender you could puree it with a fork.
            5020 Telegraph Ave
            Oakland, CA 94609
            They're open every day from 5pm to 11pm.

            Good luck, and by all means tell us what you find!!!




            1. re: patrick
              Kirsten Armstrong

              There is also an Eritrean place called Asmara in San Francisco - at Ocean and Capitol.

              My boyfriend and I have become frequent visitors of late and the food is great...certainly clears your sinuses if you want to order on the spicy end! My favorite dish so far is the Tuna & Greens

        2. There is a smoothie place (I'm sorry I've forgotten the name, if ever I knew it) on Fremont St. between Market and Mission. It's the next door to the big 45 Fremont building toward Mission St.

          They have some really great smoothies... tapioca and cantaloupe springs to mind.

          Also, there is a great soup du jour at Portico, which is on Front St. about 100 feet down from Market St.

          As for Californian food... I'd bet a lot that if you called and made a reservation for a less-busy day (say, a Wednesday), and explained the problem, Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley would take your requirements as a personal challenge, especially if you couch your request as you did to us. This at least falls in the realm of dinner rather than dessert. Be warned though, while I love Chez Panisse and the food is spectacular (IMNSHO), it certainly isn't for the light of wallet.

          3 Replies
          1. re: PRSMDave

            Good point re: dessert heaviness of previous suggestions. I thought of that, but then I figured it could be considered liberating rather than narrow! I mean, shoot, if I was limited in chewability, I'd consume TONS of ice cream and malteds!

            Also, you're right. The idea of posing this as a challenge to chefs is indeed a good one. While we usually frown on chefs marketing to our users, if Jackie wants to give permission, I'd be ok with making an exception and inviting chefs reading along to email her directly....Jackie, is that ok?).

            But Chez Panisse ain't exactly the most flexible place in the world even in more obvious ways; it's worth a try, but I'd be curious to hear their reaction. Is Alice even still in the kitchen anymore?


            1. re: Jim Leff

              Yes, Jim that would be fine. I'd be very interested in what chefs recommend.

              1. re: Jackie B.

                Ok, chefs and restaurateurs:

                As a one-time thing, for a particularly tough challenge requiring custom help, please feel free to email Jackie your proposals for whipping up (literally!) a dinner to remember, so she can leave SF feeling like she enjoyed adequate deliciousness.

                Jackie, please report back and let us know how it went.

          2. I've been thinking more -- went back to the time when I had my wisdom teeth taken out and had to eat everything through a straw...

            babaghanoj (sp?) and hummus in any number of middle eastern places

            maybe congee/jook/rice porridge?

            I totally second Cafe Jacqueline for excellent souffles - savory ones are available too!

            I know there's been a lot of dessert suggestions, but as an alterative to ice cream, Golden Island on 19th and Noriega (and a number of other chinese places) make a good steamed custard made with milk or eggs (your choice). I like the ones flavored with ginger, but plain and coconut versions are also available.

            The delicious fried taro "fish" at Bamboo Garden (a chinese vegetarian place) is made completely from mashed taro, so that could also fit the bill. Get a soup and it's a meal.

            I hope this helps. I couldn't come up with a good palce for guacamole since I usually end up with home-made versions...perhaps other hounds can jump in.